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As an old codger who doesn't usually express himself on the internet
this comment is a bit out of character. We saw the film recently while
holidaying in NZ, nothing to do one Sunday evening and thought a local
film might be interesting. Came out gobsmacked and argued and discussed
it with my partner late into the night. Wanted to see if I could get a
DVD, not realising it hadn't been released in the UK, and fell into
The film is a bit like a jigsaw, at first it has no shape but as bits are added it starts to make sense and the enormity of the problem Paul has inadvertently got himself into becomes clear. The story is totally believable and all the actors, even the bit parts, are brilliant and convincing. The discontinuity of the story line means you have to work to understand it, but that adds to the interest.
The scenery is great (well, it is NZ). There is a little swearing and small sex scenes but they are also well done and not overplayed, and are necessary for the plot.
Am looking forward to seeing it again
Having had to do NZ fiction at school over a decade ago and hating it,
I was not sure what to expect with this film. It has made me want to go
and buy the book and get back into the wonder of my country's literary
heritage... but that's another story.
This film is beautiful. It's tense, funny (some of the cameos for kiwi's to look out for additional fun!)... it takes you into the heart and soul of the characters. The two main characters are portrayed so wonderfully, you feel you're an extension of them.
Not knowing the story probably helped as I was not expecting everything that comes to pass (don't want to spoil anything). The movie, though desperate at some times, makes you feel somewhat uplifted. Hope. By the way, does anyone know who did the painting? I loved it.
Saw it during my vacation in New-Zealand last December. Didn't know the
story at all. Haven't read the book or anything. The lady from the B&B
where we were staying suggested this one. I thought the movie was
amazing. The movie starts slow and if you like high speed action movies
this may not be your piece of cake. If you can stand a lower pace this
is absolutely one to watch.
I have actually seen it a second time because it was selected for the Rotterdam Film Festival 2005 (little bit closer to home) and I am know hoping for a regular release in the Netherlands. In my opinion this movie does not get enough attention.
Alright, I admit family dramas with long hidden secrets are my
favourites, but this has to be one of the best.
I was utterly compelled by the story, I can't remember the last time I was so emotionally engrossed. I was with Paul every step of the way. I have to see it again because I was so caught up I only noticed peripherally that the music,
cinematography and design were all delivering the perfect cinematic
As for the performances, the actors just disappeared, I was watching Paul and Celia and Jax living their lives. I felt more voyeuristic than Jonathon, as if I was witnessing private moments. What a wonderful film.
Last night I was privileged to see one of the most emotional, sensitive
and highly enjoyable films I have seen in many years. "In My Father's
Den" both premiered and opened the 51st Sydney Film Festival, which is
no mean feat for a New Zealand feature film.
The film is of world class standard and I predict will easily join the ranks of other noted NZ feature films such as "Once were Warriors", "The Piano" and "Whalerider".
The storytelling is sophisticated, delicate and richly layered in such a way, that it easily deserves a second viewing. The performances from the entire cast are compelling, but none so as extraordinary as the lead performances by newcomer Emily Barclay (as Celia) and Mathew MacFadyen (as Paul Prior). The scenes between these two are simply mesmerizing. A pure joy to watch. This film achieves what few films can claim to, and that is, to create characters, which you totally believe are living flesh and blood.
I predict from this point forward, many an accomplished actor will be beating a path to Writer/Director Brad McGann's door.
Mathew MacFadyen plays a war zone photographer returning to his former his home town to attend his fathers funeral. Set in a small township in a remote area of the South Island of New Zealand. The film beautifully dramatizes the world weary Prior against the next generation who look to leave the town and experience the world for themselves. Paul's very presence creates a ripple effect across the close knit community. Some positive, some negative. Old family wounds are opened, youthful loves remembered, new relationships are forged and dark truths revealed.
The film plays it's cards slowly and steadily at first, gradually drawing you deeper into it's web. Before long you are captivated and unable to prevent yourself from becoming emotionally involved. The audience around me were drawn deeply into this beautiful film and many moved to tears. Attendees included Director Phil Noyce, Actors Geoffrey Rush, Hugo Weaving, other luminaries and several thousand of Sydney's film fraternity.
This is one of those films that successfully stays with you after you leave the cinema. I can wholeheartedly recommend it to you.
When his father dies, Paul Prior (Matthew Macfadyen), a disillusioned
and battle weary war photographer, decides to return home to New
Zealand. His brother is caught off-guard by Paul's sudden re appearance
after seventeen years away. Reluctantly re-visiting the dilapidated
family property, he discovers his fathers old den tucked away in the
equipment shed. Paul sets about clearing up and stumbles upon sixteen
year-old Celia (Emily Barclay) who has been using the derelict
hide-away as a private haven to write her stories and to fuel her dream
of living in Europe, far away from the small town she longs to escape.
This seemingly uninteresting story-line masks a superb plot that slowly unfolds as the movie progresses. The characters are fantastic and the performances of Barclay, MacFadyen and the supporting cast is excellent. The subtle twists are very well hidden and the final explanation of the whole scenario is mind-blowing. In my opinion, this is a must see movie!
There was a lot of hype about this film before screening at the
Auckland/ Wellington film festival - it had been hailed by critics as
the best NZ film since 'Once Were Warriors' and 'Heavenly Creatures'
which meant that it was up for
some heavy slating if it didn't perform to expectations. Upon seeing the film I have to say that I think it is one of the most sensitive and intelligent films to come out of NZ for a long while, and although it's unfair to make comparisons, it's fair to say that it is up there with the best of NZ films, (probably) in the top five. What makes this film unique is that it dares to look beneath the surface of our society and the people who make it up. It dares to take it's time. It dares to follow it's own rules than that of your average mystery/murder mystery. This is not a film for people who get bored easily or don't like to think or participate in the story- telling process - it is for those of us who like to take a plunge into something a little different, challenging (both in the way it's told and what it's about) and unpredictable. In essence this is the sort of film which will establish a strong following but, because it sits outside the flags of comfortable viewing, will be met with hesitation from those who like their films pre-digested and served with a smile.
See this New Zealand film - it probably won't make you laugh, it might
bring you close to tears but see it anyway. This is small town New
Zealand with a huge web of intrigue showing how through
misunderstandings wrong conclusions with tragic consequences can occur.
The breakdown of family relationships through communication problems is
also highlighted, and I could relate it to my own experience where the
death of a family member did not serve to bring the family closer
together but broke us further apart.
But on the upside it's also about sharing dreams and goals and looking for something better than what your current setting can offer, whether that be small town Otago or middle Eastern trouble spots. There is some beautiful rugged New Zealand scenery to be enjoyed, although don't expect it on the same scale as in LOTR, it's more just the icing on the cake here.
Definitely see it if you can handle a moderate amount of swearing, violence, sex and drug use. If you're just looking for a laugh, don't see it.
Once in a while, Cathay@Orchard screens their exclusive showcase
selection of films which are not part of your mainstream Hollywood
offering. In My Father's Den is one such film, and it is not often that
I dive head on into a film without knowing at least a bit of the
background or production details.
This film is an NZ-UK production, and it sure is set in NZ alright when I saw the "Pump" brand of bottled water in one of the scenes. Can't get anymore authentic than that! However, I'm in two minds as to how to rate this film. The narrative is painfully slow (butt-numbing 2hrs 10 mins), but necessary to allow you time to think through what is going on, and the revelation of the ending, shocking yet somewhat expected.
Paul Prior is a renowned war photo-journalist who's back in NZ to attend his father's funeral. Although he missed it, being back home gave him the opportunity to touch base with his estranged brother and his wife (Lord of the Rings fan will recognize Miranda Otto here), his nephew, and hook back up with his ex-flame who's now married to somebody else.
During this time, he hooks up with one of his students, 16 year old Celia, whose outlook in life, and passion for writing, brought back memories of himself, as well as memories of his ex-flame Jackie. However, an old photograph triggers suspicion that Celia might be the child Jackie bore him, before he literally walked out on his family, and Jackie. Meanwhile, you get a feeling that Celia is beginning to develop feelings for Paul, which all the more should sound alarm bells.
But things turn for the worse when Celia goes missing, and Paul becomes the prime suspect for her disappearance. It is during the portion of the film that time is juxtaposed, which might make it a little confusing or irate the viewer. There are many characters in this film, and your mind will race as to sieve out the red herrings, and decide who's involved, and who's not.
The "den" in the title refers to a shed that Paul's father has, which is stashed with good books, and good vinyl music discs. Quite a number of good songs are played throughout, which makes the soundtrack appealing. Many pivotal events take place in this shed, being a place of refuge for Paul, to being a key element of suspense and shock to the audience when the twist is revealed.
The multi-faceted relationships between the characters form the theme of this film, and the cast put up excellent performances in bringing their roles to life. The ending, when revealed and when you think through it in its proper chronological order, is fulfilling, yet laced with a heavy dose of sadness.
So if you're in for some classic story-telling, from a plot that really takes its time to unravel, then this is recommended for you. If you'd prefer to get on with action, then you should stick to the blockbuster summer offerings.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
A warphotographer returns home to NZ to take part in his fathers funeral. When he gets back he meet up with his past, meeting with his brother, his former girlfriend ,and a empty house after his father. Slovly the different characters comes to life and its all linked together into a series of events that ends up in a death. The story is excellent told , sometimes in flashbacks and sometimes not linear, but in a way that its easy to follow. This story really touched me because of the dept, the views and the different characters. This is not a happy ending story, but if you get a chance to watch it you will not regret it. I think this is a story that will stand the test of time , what I mean is that it will be a movie that many will recommend to their friends. I guess now I have to find the book and read it. They say that the book mostly are better than the film. If thats the case I'm in for many nice hours of reading.
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